Tire Safety Tips
• Following routine vehicle maintenance can be key in preventing tire blowouts. Check air pressure and tire tread depth frequently. Low air pressure can cause the tire to overheat more quickly and a low tread depth makes it easier for a tire to pick up road debris.
• Make sure your tires aren’t worn. Because rubber breaks down faster on old tires, they are more vulnerable to tire blowouts. Tires should be replaced every six years, D&D; Tire owner Phil Dwyer said.
• If a blowout does occur, maintain control of your car and steer it to the right side of the road as quickly as possible to prevent further damage to the wheel, said Lt. Edna Buttler with the Kansas Highway Patrol. Don’t overreact or overcorrect, she said. If you hear any noise or notice a problem, pull over as soon as you can.
• Before you have a tire problem, know whom you are going to call for help. If you have roadside assistance, have the membership policy number easily accessible.
On a hot day last month, Kansas Highway Patrol Lt. Edna Buttler arrived at the scene of an accident.
A young driver of an old car had lost control of the vehicle and smashed into a mailbox.
The culprit? A blown tire.
“It had been hot for a week at least and it was an older car, so there is no telling when the maintenance of the tire was checked,” Buttler said. “Tire pressure, wear and tear — those things are always important to monitor.”
Tire trouble is more common during summer months. On hot days, low air pressure can cause tires to overheat and add pressure to the side walls of the tire. That causes the rubber to start coming apart and creates a hole. Eventually, the tire blows.
“I’ve been on for nine years and I haven’t seen (a tire blowout) during any of the cooler months,” Buttler said.
AAA in Kansas also sees more tire-related calls in summer than the rest of the year, spokeswoman Betty Oliva said. In June alone, AAA had more than 1,000 tire-related calls in the state.
About 270 accidents were caused by tire blowouts in 2008, according to data from the Kansas Department of Transportation.
At Gregg Tire Co., 4661 W. Sixth St., store manager Steve Aldrich said that in the summertime, the store sees a big increase in customers who need new tires after a blowout.
“One of the more critical things is that people don’t check their tire pressure often enough and as a tire gets low, especially with the hot, hot conditions outside, it overheats quickly, which causes a blowout,” Aldrich said.
About 90 percent of the time, the driver and vehicle come out of the situation unharmed.
“They just blow out and (drivers) end up going to the side of the road and put their spare on,” Aldrich said.
At D&D; Tire, 1000 Vt., workers most frequently see blowouts on the first really hot day of the year, owner Phil Dwyer said. On average, the downtown tire shop sees drivers come in with blown tires one to two times a day.
“The hotter the temperature, the hotter the tire and the more likely you are going to have a failure,” Dwyer said. “It happens when it’s hottest.”